Baffert’s Restoring Hope Among Top Contenders For Sunland Derby

An array of the nation’s top trainers are planning on sending horses to the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) to be run on Sunday, March 25 at Sunland Park Racetrack Casino and Hotel.  Elite conditioners like Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas and Simon Callaghan are targeting Sunland Park’s biggest race.

The $800,000 purse and 85 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby are highly attractive lures to these top outfits. The winner receives 50 points to the Kentucky Derby. Second place earns 20 points. Third place gets 10 points and fourth place earns 5 points.

Bob Baffert looks to send Restoring Hope for Sunland Park’s biggest race. The son of Giant’s Causeway was last seen beating Santa Anita maidens by over three lengths on Feb. 2. The victory came at one mile and one sixteenth, and Restoring Hope was full of run in the final furlong. He should be a big threat on March 25. His five workouts following that maiden win have been exceptional. Restoring Hope is owned by Gary and Mary West. Ax Man is another potential starter from the Baffert stable. Baffert has won the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) three times, most recently with Chitu in 2014.

Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen could be sending two quality 3-year-olds in New York Central and Dream Baby Dream. New York Central has already carved out two wins from four starts. The Tapit colt recently won an allowance at Oaklawn Park going one and one-eighth miles, the same distance as the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). He has a strong cruising speed and broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last fall. The winner of $104,600 is owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing. The grey roan colt has been working forwardly since his last Oaklawn win on Feb. 19.

Dream Baby Dream is another imposing Asmussen runner with recent Oaklawn Park form.  The Into Mischief colt is very fit coming off three straight third place finishes to stablemates New York Central and Title Ready and the Risen Star Stakes winner Bravazo. The battle tested sophomore is also a maiden winner from Churchill Downs and has a strong stretch kick.

Prince Lucky represents the Todd Pletcher stable. The Pennsylvania bred son of Corinthian is a restricted bred stakes winner at Parx and is a three-time winner from five starts. The winner of nearly $135,000 has a good looking form line and split the field in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 13.

D. Wayne Lukas has a solid prospect with Kentucky Club. The Oxbow colt owned by Calumet Farm packs a solid late kick. He finished 6th in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes.

Simon Callaghan’s All Out Blitz will receive ample betting attention. He was a runner-up to McKinzie in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and came in third in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. In his maiden win at Los Alamitos last December, the Concord Point gelding beat Restoring Hope by a nose. All Out Blitz outran Southwest Stakes winner My Boy Jack in the Sham Stakes. Trainer Callaghan saddled 2015 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) Firing line who would go on to finish second to American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby.

Local hopes rest with Todd Fincher’s Runway Ghost. The Ghostzapper colt was a runway winner of the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby and finished second to Reride in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby.

The post Baffert’s Restoring Hope Among Top Contenders For Sunland Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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